The Season after Pentecost: Proper 7, Year B

tempestadHe-qiPower and Faith

  • 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49
  • Psalm 9:9-20
  • 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
  • Mark 4:35-41

Today we have two great stories from scripture: David & Goliath and Jesus stilling the storm. In both cases, there is a power of unimaginable strength that appears to be in control of the “human condition.”

Goliath, the behemoth Philistine, intimidates all by his physical appearance and battle prowess. He evokes fear and dismay to all he approaches. However, David (the youngest son of Jesse as we heard in last week’s Old Testament reading), volunteers to fight him – without armor for protection or a dangerous weapon of war. Instead, with just five smooth stones and a sling he calls on his radical faith in God’s protection. David slays Goliath with one stone’s throw. This act is a witness to the power of the living God, through whom the seemingly weak are able to overcome the powerful. 

A weary Jesus attempts to leave the crowds behind him by crossing to the other side of the lake in a boat. Relaxed, he falls asleep, knowing his fishermen disciples know how to steer the boat. However, a windstorm appears, just as dangerous as a warrior such as Goliath. The disciples are in terror – Jesus continues to sleep. As the disciples shake Jesus awake to save them, he simply rebukes the storm with words: “Peace! Be still!” (v. 39a). These are not new words from Jesus; he shouted the same words when he healed the man possessed with a demon (Mark 1:25). All are amazed. Again. Jesus fully trusted in God, a new David.

How do we put our trust in God when faced with fear, an obstacle, something beyond our control? Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we state our belief and trust in God. We ask God to “deliver us from evil.” In Eucharistic Prayer B we hear the phrase, “You have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you.” (BCP 368).

For reflection:

  • In Mark 4:40, Jesus questions the faith of his followers. How would you define faith? What are some of the dilemmas in your own life that call your faith into question? What confirms or strengthens your faith?
  • What are the stormy times in your life? How is God present to you during these times?
  • How is God working through our own lives today and that of the broader Church in unconventional ways?
  • What do today’s lessons challenge us to do in the world, and how will we respond to this call of God?

Update: With the horrific shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina you may also find the following posting informative for sermon preparation and/or adult study. Jim Crow Again: Lessons for Fighting the Giant from the Odyssey Network. 

Image: The Tempest, He-qi

About Sharon Ely Pearson

Wife, mom, grandmother; author, educator, consultant; trying to make a difference one action at a time. Christian formation has been my vocation for 40+ years - and counting!
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